If any body tries to do a compilation of Illayaraja's finest songs Mani Ratnam visualized songs would take up a considerable space. What made these two come together to create some most beautiful film songs of the past few decades? Is that because great minds think alike? Or only a genius can recognize another genius? They even share their birthday which is June 2.
With Illayaraja's parting with Mani Ratnam happened another historic union of ARR Rahman and Mani Ratnam spread wings. And what a flight they had. With "Chinna Chinna Asai" becoming the new anthem of India every inch of India got a taste of Mani Ratnam and how?......................
A R Rahman was a jingle composer and his music of 'Roja' was a trial blazer of sorts. It's to be credited to Mani Ratnam that after the loss of Illayaraja he didn't compromise and again found another real king of music. After A R Rahman joined, Mani's music went "symphonic electronica" because of heavy reliance on synthesizers in an orchestral fashion by A R Rahaman.
'Roja' had 5 songs and each is special because of the way Mani Ratnam had picturised them. A lot have been said and written about the reggae "Chinna Chinna Aasai" which has already got iconic status all over the world. "Pudhu Vellai Mazhai" is a striking duet which taught the world how to picturise mystic eroticism with utmost sophistication. With "Rukkumani Rukkumani" Mani found the new-age stand alone song which is now reduced to be called item number by ordinary film makers. In fact right from 'Mounaragam', Mani Ratnam had a stand alone song in every film which excelled both in composition and picturisation so that it imbibes it self with the film. The Hariharan number "Tamizha Tamizha" dubbed in Hindi as Bharat humko jaan se pyara hai rekindled new found patriotism in India. When Mani created the scene where Arvindsamy tries to save the burning flag by rolling over it a new dimension in visualizing patriotic songs was achieved.
'Thiruda Thiruda' is the only film of Mani Ratnam which was grossly underrated. Yet the songs of the film became a national craze. "Konjam Nilavu" by Anupama is still being referred for its picturisation. Even other song "Thee Thee" made a solid impact with its set and water bodies of Mani. When 'Bomaby' came Mani's style of songs were understood by all. With his visualization Mani could escape virtually anything. Think of the song "Kannalane" by Chitra which pierced your heart and stayed there. In no muslim family in Tamil Nadu will have a such a pompous dance masti during a marriage. But when Mani showed one of the impossible on screen the audience went awe for the visuals and the deft use of the melody. The painfully slow love sung 'Uyire' stood for the large canvas of the nature Mani portrayed.
The songs of 'Iruvar' were a very successful experiment. The jazzy "Vennila Vennila" had all the makeup of Mani Ratnam. The Tajmahal, the rain etc... 'Alai Payuthey' was said to be initially planned a songless movie. The absolute stunner "Pachai Nirame" with innovative visualization where everything is of the same colour when a colour is mentioned is something nobody imagined before Mani. Even the "Yaro Yarodi" was a revealing experience for the camera man to go round a round to follow the character. "Snehithane" has to be watched on screen. 'Alai Payuthey' is the best example of Mani's films turning for rhythmic fusion using modern synthesizers.
Chinmayi's soul filling "Oru Deivam Thantha Poove" in 'Kannathil Muthamittal' is a beauty. The huge skeletal boat on a vast bimbo land is artistry redefined. 'Aayutha Ezhuthu' can also be said experimental but the "Nee Yaro" featuring Siddharth and Trisha is a treat to the eyes. You are reminded of "Vaa Vaa Anbe" in Mani Ratnam. The blue ocean and the white sand, oh... boy you have to be there.
Now after six years Mani Ratnam is taking us to the jungles to sing and dance with him. The visuals of 'Raavanan' are already enchanting and particularly the songs again. Seeing the visuals of 'Kalvare' song you are in for yet another sophisticated lusty love which touches classicism.
Even the songs of 'Raavanan' release today are visual treats.